Facebook takes aim at Youtube with new standalone TV app

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Facebook logoImage source, AFP

Facebook is to roll out an app that lets users watch the platform's video content on television.

The move could allow it to eventually better compete with the likes of YouTube and traditional television channels for advertising revenue.

Users with Apple TV, Amazon's Fire TV and Samsung's Smart TVs will be able to watch Facebook's user-generated videos directly on their televisions.

The announcement is in line with Facebook's increasing focus on video.

The company has recently been paying creators for exclusive premium video content, and is heavily promoting the Facebook Live feature that allows users to live stream events.

Facebook says the standalone app will be released "soon".

Analysis: Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter

The only screen Facebook doesn't dominate right now is the biggest one in your home.

The company's decision to launch these TV apps - which we've been expecting for some time now - is the first significant step the company has made to build its challenge to the likes of Netflix and Hulu.

To do that, though, it will need to offer programmes that are of a far higher quality than what is on Facebook right now. That will require big investment in getting top talent to make Facebook-only video.

One interesting move will be how it plans to make money from TV. If Facebook feels it can make its content free (with income coming from advertising), then it could give subscriber services like Netflix and Amazon Prime serious pause for thought.

The announcement by the social media giant was made together with several other news about the company's video features.

Videos will now autoplay sound in the news feed and will be displayed in full, even if they are vertical.